This week we concluded our study in the book of Jonah. Jonah has finally gone to Nineveh and preached the message of grace that God told him to preach. Nineveh has repented of their sin and turned to God.
Nineveh’s repentance is a huge deal and Jonah should be thrilled but instead we read that, “it displeased Jonah exceedingly” and it angered him that God relented and did not destroy the city. He hates the Ninevites so much and is so angry that God has mercy on them that he asks God to kill him. As He has throughout the entire story, God has incredible patience with Jonah. From the very beginning God has been teaching Jonah that his priorities are far from being in line with God’s priorities.
As Jonah sits outside the city and waits to see if God will destroy it or not, God causes a plant to grow over Jonah to shelter from the elements and the Bible says that Jonah is “exceedingly glad” about this plant. But the next day God makes the plant die causing Jonah to again wish for death. God uses this little episode to not only show Jonah that his priorities are off but he actually speaks to Jonah and tells him as much. Jonah cares more about the plant that he cares about the more than one hundred thousand people living in Nineveh. His heart was very different than God’s heart and one thing that we learn through this story is that God will not stop working on you until your heart matches his heart. Jonah’s heart was for himself but God’s heart was for the people of Nineveh. Jonah thought God was on his side not the side of the Ninevites, but God was on everyone’s side. He was for the sailors who came to know Him. He was on the side of the Ninevites who he sent a messenger who told them to repent of their sin. He was on Jonah’s side when he worked to change Jonah’s heart to be more like his own.
In the end, we honestly are not sure whether or not Jonah “gets it”. We don’t know if Jonah ever repented of his hatred of the Ninevites and learned to love them like God did. But what we can learn from this is that we all have places in our hearts that do not line up with the heart of God; things we don’t like, places that we don’t want to go, people that we don’t want to love the way that God loves them. We all need to grow in our capacity to love the way that God loves and in order to love like God loves we need to know that we are truly, deeply loved by Christ.
Band for the week was:
- Zack Van Hoy – drums
- Greg Hookstra – bass
- Aaron Chappell – guitar + vox
- Patrick Downing – vox
- Jon Pritchett – guitar